"Garbage is the operative word."
Siskel & Ebert... Man, what a couple of fun-hating buttholes. Case in point: they're gonna bag on XTRO? Fucking XTRO?!!? "Mean-spirited"? "Abysmal"? "Garbage"? You're lucky you're fucking dead, Gene Siskel, or else Cobras would have one Hell of a score to settle with you.
For my sci-fi/horror dollar, it just doesn't get any better than this 1983 masterpiece, written and directed by British helmsman Harry Bromley Davenport. Davenport has rarely ventured outside the XTRO franchise for the remainder of his film career, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you ask. I figured we're loooong overdue for an XTRO post on IllCon, after all, can any of you think of a film more pertinent to I.C interests? XTRO has it all: a super-low budget, awesome special effects, good ideas, humor (both intentional and unintentional), aliens, shitloads of gore and arterial spray, an ultra-spacey electronic soundtrack, a dude eating raw snake eggs, and, best of all, a woman giving very graphic birth to a full-grown man.
"XTRO! BEARING POWERS OF BLACK MAGIC FROM OUTER SPACE!"
XTRO is far more than just your run-of-the-mill 'alien intruder' genre flick, it does of course begin with your standard spaceship crash but spins out of control into something far more surreal rather quickly. By the end of the film, it has morphed into some sort of Satanic mashup between Alien, House By The Cemetary, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, and Toy Story (no, really), causing one to invariably wonder: what the fuck was Harry Bromley Davenport smoking, and why didn't he share?
In reality, it's probably been 5 years or more since I've seen this movie, but the highlights are burned into my brain with an eerie permanence--which I guess is the primary goal of a shocksploitation film like as this one. Badmovies.org has quoted Davenport in confirmation as such: "(I) set out to do the most disgusting things that we could get away with. And if I'd had it my way, they would have been more disgusting." He also called the film an "extraordinary mess" and "rubbish".
XTRO is currently scored as "20% fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes (2% lower than Sucker Punch), which I find totally understandable considering the average person's shitty taste in movies. This movie just ISN'T FOR 99% of the population. But c'mon... How could you possibly take issue with a scene like this?:
As always, I guess we need to take a moment to discuss the (mostly inconsequential) plot. There's a dad, and a kid, and a wife, then some gratuitous boobie shots and stuff, then a bunch of alien-murder, and cocoons, and a midget clown, and a death-by-random-panther scene... Wait, what?
Let's start over. We start with the aforementioned spacecraft crashing in a swamp somewhere in Britain, and it is eventually revealed that said spacecraft formerly housed a really creepy, gooey alien that looks suspiciously like a dude on all fours with a backwards mask on. Said alien proceeds to spirit away the aforementioned Father, possessing his body and then disappearing for three full years.
Upon Daddy's re-appearance on the Family Scene, things start to get pretty goofy. Mom's pissed that he bailed for all that time, and it is then exposed that she has since taken up with a dorky new fella who in turn harbors a deep mistrust of the magically-reappeared Dad. Of course, we all know he's possessed by an alien, so it's no surprise when he starts doing zany shit like sucking on his son's neck, or chowing down on raw snake eggs, or, y'know, impregnating random cottage-dwelling women of the British countryside with Martian embryos. Oh yeah, and killing people.
As a result of his old man's neck-sucking (apparently aliens reproduce a la vampire), the Youngster (Sam) starts doing some pretty wacky shit too, like killing his neighbor and bringing a bunch of his toys to life (hence the Toy Story reference and also, for some reason, the midget clown), and by the time Mom and Dorky Boyfriend catch on to what's happening, the proverbial "fit" has alreready hit the equally-proverbial "shan".
This movie just gets weirder and weirder and weirder as it progresses. Trust me.
I'm sure that at this point you guys are all super-pumped on XTRO, and hankering for its respective sequels. Well, I regret to inform you that its 1991 sequel XTRO 2: The Second Encounter, starring Airwolf star Jan Michael Vincent (right), is a big old boring pile of shit (in fact I ranked it among the worst sequels of all time way back here), and its second sequel, 1995's XTRO 3: Watch The Skies, ain't much better. So that sucks.
You can't win 'em all, I guess. But you can still try: Last year, Harry Bromley Davenport announced plans to begin production on XTRO 4, and although no release date has been set as of yet, I think it's safe to assume that it will at least be.... Interesting?
Who knows? Garbage is the operative word.
Watch it on YouTube/Get it on Netflix/Buy VHS/Buy DVD/Ride a rollercoaster with The Rock.
GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!
Holy shit, during the course of my research for this post, I fucking accidentally found it. Original soundtrack by XTRO auteur Harry Bromley Davenport himself! I've seriously been looking for this sucker for years--it is amazing stuff, especially if you're into that whole psychedelic/sci-fi Moog shit that Tomita and Carlos do so well. Which I am.
BLACK MAGIC FROM SPACE